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I have been kept to the confines of this place for so long.

My eyes cannot shed tears any longer, because my fluids are so low.

I am frail, skinny, white as a sheet, with my eyes bloodshot, and my body bruised. My mother says it’s for my own benefit, that I’m better off inside; that my life is here, on the farm. I've been here for as long as I can remember, since I was a young boy. I've never been outside the farmland, I've never seen anything but what my parents showed me, taught me. It's all I know.

I want to see the big city. I want to see the lights, the buildings, the hustle and bustle, the daily grind as people go about their day. I want to walk among them, to laugh with them.

Father used to show me pictures when he went there, of these colossal structures, these brilliant innovations. Bridges built from steel, tall, twisting buildings with rows, and rows of glass. Monuments, museums, memorials. Mother always told him it’d encourage me.

My chains are painful; the times I’ve broken out made mother angry, and so she made newer, stronger ones. She says if I’m fed too much, I’m too strong, too willful.

And so I’m kept here, in the barn, with hay as my pillow, and the pigs as my friends.

I would very much like a lady-friend. I’m a young man. Father told me of his adventures all that time ago, of his endeavors with women, and mother scolded him. Mother didn’t like him talking to me all that much. Mother wanted to raise me properly and well. At least, that’s what she said.

My mother never talks about anything to me, other than about my knowledge.

I don’t know much about why, but all I am told is that I can’t tell anyone what we talk about sometimes, that it’s dangerous to the people, that I’ll be locked up or shot, that they won’t believe me.

I believe mother, but I want to see the people.

I need them, I need to see them. I need those colossal structures. The farm isn’t enough.

The fight was what caused me to really start thinking.

My chains weren’t as short when it happened, so I was able to see out of one of the gaps in the barn roof. Mother was shouting, and so was father.

Her face was different than when she shouted at me, though. It had contorted into a wicked snarl, with sickly-looking, beige skin. Her teeth were jagged and bloody too, protruding from almost every direction and orifice on her face. I remember how much I trembled, becoming petrified with fear, hiding away as best I could for what seemed hours. I knew this wasn’t normal; the things I was told were one thing, but father never looked like this, and the people in the photos didn’t either.

I wasn’t able to hear much, but from what I caught, someone, or something wasn’t ready yet.

Soon after, mother talked to me.

She told me, in the same tranquil tone she always used when talking to me about things like this, that father was going away for a while; that his job needed him elsewhere. I couldn’t believe her, but I was too weak to argue.

She has been feeding me less and less as time goes on. I must try soon, or I’ll never be able to.

As darkness falls, I hear footsteps approaching the barn.

My mother appears, smiling her sweet smile, red hair framing her friendly face, with a jug of water in her hand.

She’s also clutching a candle, the flame illuminating her smile. I shudder, thinking of what that face had become.

She asks me what’s wrong, that I look like I’ve seen a ghost.

I ignore her, standing up as best I can on my frail legs, trembling softly as the chains around my legs rattle. I feel like a baby animal walking for the first time.

She comes closer, eyes full of puzzlement. She asks again, this time with an air of suspicion.

It’s now or never.

My hand grabs hers, and with all my might, I wrench the flame, and watch as it tumbles down towards the floor, heat licking the hay.

My mother grows enraged at my act of defiance, her voice raising. She begins to strike my face, over and over, spitting vitriol.

I grunt, and back away, the assault not unfamiliar, but painful as ever.

The pummeling continues, and my mother’s rage increases. I fall to the floor, begging my mother to stop, to cease. I’m apologizing, groveling. I can no longer keep my eyes shut.

And then I see it.

The burning, crackling, hay fueled fire.

It’s spreading now, the brilliant display of orange and yellow dancing over the floor, reaching up for the wood.

The beating suddenly stops. My mother’s head darts to where I’m looking. Fury grows as I watch, and an icy chill causes me to shiver, involuntarily washing over me. I watch as her face begins to shift, contort, into that same, sickly, twisted, wretched image I’d seen before. Wide, gaping mouth, oily, beige skin, black, beady eyes that pierced my resolve.

I am paralyzed, the same trembling beginning. I cannot move. I cannot think.

She leaps forward, and my senses return as I see the gaping maw rapidly closing the distance between us, threatening to erase me if I don’t act now.

I choose to dive, using the momentum of the lunge to throw her off balance.

She grabs me, violently, wrenching me to the side, much stronger than I’d anticipated, and I hear a snap as my chains are ripped from their placements.

We crash through the barn, both reeling from the impact.

I make it to my feet first, a mad rush of adrenaline fueling me. I’m going to make it.

I begin to limp away, turning to face the now smoking barn, fully ablaze.

She gets to her feet, blood trickling down her face.

I then realize that I too am bleeding; cuts and bruises adorn my body, and I’m sure I’ve broken my leg.

She lets out an ear-splitting shriek, and starts to advance.

It’s over, there’s no way I can outrun her.

I close my eyes, waiting for death.

But all I hear is a low rumble.

My eyes open again, and I’m in awe. A flaming rafter dislodges itself, tumbling down, striking my ‘mother’ as it falls.

The most inhuman noise comes out of her as she falls, a cross between a bellow and a scream.

I watch, grimacing in pain as whatever I call my mother begins to burn, skin bubbling, torso writhing in agony, that putrid skin melting away.

I turn, and begin to walk away towards the main house, trying to block out the noise.

The last thing I hear as I leave the farm with some food and water, is my mother’s cries for me to stay.

It’s the dawn of a new day for me, and I intend to tell everyone what I know.

Written by ZugZuwang
Content is available under CC BY-SA